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Bon Chance

If I may relate a piece of extraordinarily good luck that has nothing to do with anything, let me subject you all to the tale of the Best Poker Hand Ever. I was playing some Texas hold 'em last not and get dealt a pair of pocket sevens. Not such a hot hand, but with no pre-flop raising and a large table, I figured why not see the flop. The three cards come down -- 7, 7, Queen. I'm in luck. Even better, two other players each had one Queen in the pocket. On the turn, the going gets really good -- down comes the fourth Queen. The flop was shit, but there I sat holding the nuts with two other players who each thought they had a winning hand of three Queens. Nobody ever worries about the chance that someone has four of a kind, especially because seeing the flop with pocket sevens was a pretty questionable move. I'm all in and, naturally enough, I clean up. If only we didn't play with extremely low stakes, I would now be a wealthy man.

November 17, 2004 | Permalink


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» Luck and Risk and Fun from Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Since I played a very casual, very friendly game of poker a few nights ago, I was amused by Matthew Yglesias's luck last night. "If only we didn't play with extremely low stakes, I would now be a wealthy man." I keep hearing about friends cleaning up... [Read More]

Tracked on Nov 17, 2004 3:43:30 PM


Saturday night, Texas hold em' 4 aces...

Posted by: Carleton | Nov 17, 2004 3:06:17 PM

Did I ever mention the time I was dealt a Royal Flush in Vegas? Of course, that was pure luck....and I didn't have the excitement of snookering some poor fellows out of their money.

Posted by: Morat | Nov 17, 2004 3:09:31 PM

Vegas being more designed to snooker YOU out of your money. :) Still, nice hand. Did you have a hard time not grinning ear-to-ear over it?

That was always my problem. Not shouting "Holy shit! Four of a kind! YEAH!" followed by "What, you're folding? Come on, I was probably lying!".

Posted by: Morat | Nov 17, 2004 3:10:44 PM

I KNEW I recognized Matthew on ESPN last night.

Posted by: Al | Nov 17, 2004 3:15:40 PM

Just came off last night's monthly game. $25 buy-in. Two hours later I'm up $3.25, net of refreshment tax. Beats losing, but not so hot. Then I figure, that's a 6-1/2 % return on investment per hour of play. Make it a $10,000 buy-in and a 40-hour poker week and....

Posted by: C.J.Colucci | Nov 17, 2004 3:17:24 PM

"Saturday night, Texas hold em' 4 aces..."

Matt's is better, if those 7's in the flop were aces, he would be unlikely to see any action.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Nov 17, 2004 3:21:54 PM

At the opposite end of the scale. The FIRST hand of a 12 person hold 'em tournament, I'm the big blind and get dealt Queen/5. Nothing special, but I'm already in.

The flop comes Queen/Queen/5: I'm holding a full house after the flop! I bet just enough to (I hope) entice someone to come in thinking I'm weak. It works, and me and two guys are left.

4th st. comes 9. I make a small bet, and the guy beside me pushes in half of his stack. I'm thinking that he must have the other Queen and I have him right where I want him with my full house. I call. Third guy drops out.

5th st. is a 4. I check. He goes all in. I call and flop over my full house: At which time he flops over Queen.....9! THE ONLY CARD THAT COULD HAVE BEAT ME! THE FIRST HAND OF THE TOURNAMENT AND I GET KNOCKED OUT AFTER FLOPPING A FULL HOUSE. It still hurts.


Posted by: MJ | Nov 17, 2004 3:22:19 PM

Matthew - Was this NL?

Posted by: K | Nov 17, 2004 3:23:31 PM

that should be "bonne chance"

Posted by: Dave Herman | Nov 17, 2004 3:24:33 PM

"there I sat holding the nuts with two other players who each thought they had a winning hand of three Queens." No. They thought they had the winning hand of a full house, since each had a Q and there were 2 Qs and 2 7s on the board.

Matt, you do indeed have tremendous luck. A full house loosing to 4-of-a-kind happens more than you seem to think. In the future when there are 2 pair on the board and you make the high boat, you will know that it is not the nut hand. Usually, you learn that is the case by having the boat and having your clock cleaned by the 4-of-a-kind. This is not unlike hitting your A-high flush on the river and watching in despair as the other guy flips over a boat.

I see from the poster above that lost with Qs over 5s to Qs over 9s that some people don't realize how often you lose with a hand that is close to the best possible but not the best. After all, if you put in half your chips or go all-in and someone calls, and there is the possibility you can lose...well, if you don't have the nut hand, someone else can, and if their hand wasn't damn good, they would have folded.

My only tournament in AC, 2 guys both get dealt pocket As and raise pre-flop to all-in. They flip over and everyone laughs and exclaims, but by the turn there are three of one suit (can't remember which) on the board. The flush didn't come out, but it was so close.

Posted by: Mitch Schindler | Nov 17, 2004 3:39:22 PM

So you know when to hold them, and when to fold them.

But do you know when to walk away? And when to run?


Posted by: SoCalJustice | Nov 17, 2004 3:42:08 PM

Yeah, I was trying to figure out what the others put you on to call. They must have thought A-7 or so when you went all in to call. But that is even more questionable starting hand than going in on a small pocket pair. What was the betting like? You slow play the flop?

Posted by: Rob | Nov 17, 2004 3:44:52 PM

Mmmmm.Mmmmm. Fish tales.

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis | Nov 17, 2004 4:27:51 PM

Matt, technically you didn't actually have the nuts. The best possible pocket hand was two queens. :)

Posted by: fling93 | Nov 17, 2004 5:05:10 PM

I had a similar experience some years back, won $287 on 4 sevens in Hold 'Em. The guy who gave me his money had a boat.

Posted by: John Sully | Nov 17, 2004 5:10:29 PM

One for the books...

Posted by: theCoach | Nov 17, 2004 5:19:57 PM

seeing the flop with pocket sevens is not at all a questionable move. folding pocket sevens would be a questionable move, unless it was readily apparent that someone had a higher pair.

Posted by: brian | Nov 17, 2004 5:21:59 PM

that should be "bonne chance"

Please. Matt can't spell in English, much less French.

Posted by: Al | Nov 17, 2004 5:42:39 PM

I see a book and movie, at least.

Posted by: Slothrop | Nov 17, 2004 5:50:09 PM

Rounders II, with Matt Damon's character following an MY-esque route to DC pundit status? With Michael Tomasky being written out in favor of John Malkovich's "Teddy KGB" as MY's editor?

Posted by: Haggai | Nov 17, 2004 5:55:24 PM


I get dealt pocket eights, call the big blind, with a caller and the blinds ahead of me. Everyone behind me folds, and the little blind calls, and the big blind checks.

Flop comes 8?, 8d, and something else, but I'm not even paying attention, because, of course I have the nuts, so I instantly shift into figuring out my betting pattern to maximize my profit. The three people ahead of me check it, so they didn't hit, and I don't smell a check-raise, so I check it myself, hoping one or more will hit something on the turn, and I can sneak up on 'em.

Turn comes 5d, and it's checked around to me AGAIN. OK, I have to bet SOMETHING to sweeten the pot, so I bet $15 (this is a $1/$2 NL game), which I think will draw callers -- except that the farking dealer wasn't paying attention, and already burned and dropped the river, As.

I complain about this, and the burn and the ace are shuffled back into the deck. The small blind calls the $15, the other two players fold, and the dealer turns up the river again, this time 7d. The small blind checks to me, and figuring that maybe I can draw him into thinking that I'm playing irrationally, I go all in.

He INSTANTLY calls, and says, "I've got the nuts!" I'm about to protest, except he does: he has a straight flush (his pocket was 6d9d), which he got on the redeal of the river.


Posted by: Michael Handler | Nov 17, 2004 5:59:16 PM

Assuming he's in late position due to the no pre-flop raising comment, he played correctly.

Pocket queens would have been devastating. But I wouldn't expect anybody to have limped in with a hand like that, especially at a big table.

Posted by: PeterQuince | Nov 17, 2004 6:01:52 PM

A mid-sized pocket pair is deffo a calling hand, not a raising hand, which makes it harder for the other players to put you on a high pair or AK/AQ, suited or non. And in late position, it gives you a great chance to suss out the table.

That said, I'm surprised that Matt didn't put out any tells on the turn. Either that, or the others in the hand were so focused on not giving away their sets that they didn't notice him.

One of the things that separate pros (and top amateurs) from the crowd, though, is the ability to appreciate -- as Mitch suggested above -- that their near-nuts hand could be beaten, and be prepared to throw it away. That takes a sharp mind, lots of concentration, and balls of steel, and I'm not there yet. Especially since it's less damaging to pay people off and lose to the nuts in limit hold-em, which is where most people start out. Making that transition's a tough one.

Posted by: ahem | Nov 17, 2004 6:36:05 PM

I did not understand a word of that.

Posted by: Nate | Nov 17, 2004 7:43:31 PM

Proud member of the "last not" based community.

Posted by: Modern Crusader | Nov 17, 2004 8:03:48 PM

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